college seal The Presidential Scholars Program brings some of the most distinguished voices in the area of anti-racist scholarship and policy to Amherst for short-term residencies. During their time at Amherst, visiting scholars present a public lecture in the President’s Colloquium on Race and Racism, hold seminars, and meet with students, faculty, and staff.

Launched in conjunction with Amherst’s 2020 Anti-Racism Plan, the Presidential Scholars program will bring four scholars per year to campus for the next two years. Presidential Scholars are nominated by faculty and other community members and hosted by the Center for Humanistic Inquiry and the President’s Office.

A pianist on stage bathed in blue light

Jason Moran Concert & Conversation

Buckley Recital Hall, Arms Music Center

6:30 p.m. James Reese Europe and the Absence of Ruin (Pre-concert conversation)
8 p.m. James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters: The Absence of Ruin (Concert)

Open to the public. Registration required. Registration and ticket information available soon. Photo by Camille Blake

Jason Moran’s Preliminary Schedule

Subject to Change

Monday, September 19

  • 12 p.m. Lunch with CHI Fellows
  • 2 p.m. Class visit: “Jazz Theory and Improvisation I” (MUSI 213)
  • 3:30 p.m. Jazz piano master class

Tuesday, September 20

  • 2:30 p.m. Class visit: “African American History from Reconstruction to the Present” (BLST 241, HIST 248)

Wednesday, September 21

  • 12:30 p.m. Class visit: “World War I” (HIST 130, EUST 130)
  • 2 p.m. Class visit: “Jazz Form and Analysis” (MUSI 343)
  • 4:30 p.m. CHI Salon: “The Music of McCoy Tyner”

Thursday, September 22

  • 10 a.m. Class visit: “Introduction to Contemporary Art” (ARHA 155)

Friday, September 23

  • 12:30 p.m. Class visit: “Improvised Music” (MUSI 439)
  • 6:30 p.m. President’s Colloquium on Race and Racism: “James Reese Europe and the Absence of Ruin” (Pre-concert conversation)
  • 8 p.m. President’s Colloquium on Race and Racism and Music@Amherst: James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters: The Absence of Ruin (Concert)

A photo of Jason Moran Jason Moran

September 19–23, 2022

Pianist and composer Jason Moran has established himself as a risk taker and trendsetter for new directions in jazz. Since 2000, Moran and the other members of his trio The Bandwagon have dazzled audiences at venues worldwide. Moran has also composed for Alonzo King LINES Ballet; conceived a jazz and skateboarding collaboration; written the film score for Selma; and paid homage to two legendary pianists in his Blue Note album All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller and his multimedia program In My Mind: Monk at Town Hall 1959. Moran is a faculty member at the New England Conservatory, the Kennedy Center’s artistic director for jazz and a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship (“Genius Grant”).

At Amherst, Moran will present James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters: The Absence of Ruin. Moran’s multidisciplinary program features his Bandwagon bandmates—bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits—plus a seven-piece horn section, contributions from artist/writer/filmmaker John Akomfrah and visual materials from acclaimed cinematographer Bradford Young. It’s Moran’s response to Orlando Patterson’s concept of the “absence of ruin”—a musical monument to a vanishing African American history.

About James Reese Europe

An iconic figure in the evolution of African American music, ragtime pioneer and World War I hero, James Reese Europe led a crack military ensemble called the Harlem Hellfighters. In addition to their achievements in combat, Europe and his Hellfighters popularized the new spirit of jazz in a war-torn French nation fascinated with Black culture. And that’s only the beginning of their story—their legacy has had an extraordinary impact on African American music over the past century of cultural and political change.

Additional Reading

Jason Moran: The Harlem Hellfighters

David Sager in The New York Times: “Jazz on the Edge of Change”

British Library Blog: “Putting to Ruins the Absence: Jason Moran, James Reese Europe, and Orlando Patterson”

Upcoming 2022–2023 Presidential Scholars

A photo of Karma Chávez Karma Chávez

October 23-29, 2022

Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, Karma Chávez is the author of Queer Migration Politics: Activist Rhetoric and Coalitional Possibilities (2013) and Palestine on the Air (2019). She is a member of the radical queer collective “Against Equality,” a former organizer for “LGBT Books to Prisoners,” and for years has worked closely with community-based organizations on issues surrounding queer, racial, economic, and immigrant justice.


Hilton Als

February 24-26, 2023

Hilton Als is an associate professor of writing at Columbia University and a staff writer and theater critic for The New Yorker magazine. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and a recipient of the Berlin Prize of the American Academy in Berlin. In 2017, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. As an art curator, Als has been responsible for exhibitions including the group show Forces in Nature and Alice Neel, Uptown. In the coming year, the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will host his most recent exhibit, God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin. His residency is also part of LitFest, the college's annual literary festival.

A photo of Saidiya Hartman Saidiya Hartman

April 4-7, 2023

Saidiya Hartman is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where her major fields of inquiry are African American and American literature and cultural history, slavery, law and literature, and performance studies. Author of Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-making in Nineteenth-Century America (1997), Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route ( 2007), and Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval (2020), she is on the editorial board of Callaloo and has been the recipient of numerous prestigious fellowships.

2021–2022 Presidential Scholars

Watch conversations with the four Presidential Scholars for 2021–22. In its first year, the program brought preeminent scholars from a wide range of disciplines to Amherst in order to deepen and enrich our campus-wide conversation about racial justice, racial history, and anti-racist scholarship, action, and policy. During short-term residencies, visiting scholars presented public lectures in the President’s Colloquium on Race and Racism, visited classes, and met with students, faculty, and staff. Scholars were nominated by faculty and other community members and hosted by the Center for Humanistic Inquiry in partnership with the President’s Office.

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinsteing

Dr. Prescod-Weinstein is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy and core faculty in women’s and gender studies at the University of New Hampshire.

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Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen

Author, critic-at-large for The Los Angeles Times, and recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant, Viet Thanh Nguyen speaks with Jennifer Acker ’00, editor-in-chief of The Common.

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Kwame Anthony Appiah

Kwame Anthony Appiah

Watch a conversation with renowned ethicist and professor of philosophy and law at NYU, Kwame Anthony Appiah, as well as an interview between Professor Appiah and Sophie Wolmer ’23.

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Harriet Washington

Harriet Washington

Watch a conversation with National Book Critics Circle Award-winning science writer, editor, and ethicist Harriet Washington, as well as an interview between Washington and Aditi Nayak ’23.

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